With blizzard announcing the end of the PvP season we know for sure that 5.2 is very close on the horizon and it is time to look back at the one addition we were given when 5.1, a non raid patch, came out.
The way they speak of it seems like when we get non raid patches the valor upgrade option will be available and when we have a raid patch it will not be. So now that we have basically finished one full cycle of a raid patch and a non raid patch and return to a raid patch and say good bye to the valor upgrade NPC what is your take on it? Was it a good addition or a bad one?
As a blogger I write my own opinions but on this topic I am afraid I can't really take a side because I don't have one yet. I love the idea of upgrading gear and I hate it all the same. I can't really pick a side yet but if I were forced to lean one way or the other I think I would have to lean toward it being a bad addition to the game if only for one reason, which I will get to.
Without prompting and without thinking really, when someone mentioned the removal of it yesterday my immediate response was impulsively thank god. But then the second guessing came because I added, it just sucks that I still have not gotten a sha touched weapon and if I do not get one it better be soon so I can upgrade it before the vendor is removed in the next patch or I will be even further behind.
The Good of it:
Some of the good parts of the upgrade vendor are quite obvious. If you get your best in slot you can make it 8 item levels better. There is really no down side to that is there? Better is always, well, better. If you are having issues getting an upgrade of a piece and you have nothing else to spend valor on, you can get that one piece up a little bit to try and make up the difference some.
Then there are characters like my healer(s) that I have not done any reputations on. Being I did not do the daily grind on her she basically has nothing what so ever to spend valor on and the item upgrade vendor becomes a perfect way to spend that valor.
Gaining valor and not using it would feel like such a waste and thanks to the item upgrade option at least all that valor did not go to waste. Sure, the easier and smarter solution would have been to not have valor gear behind reputations but this is blizzard, lets not ask them to think like reasonable rational people. Some things just can't be done. So because of that, the item upgrade option was fantastic for my healer(s) as I really can't quest as a healer so I can't get reputation as a healer and I only want them to be healers.
There was another small bonus to the item upgrade option that was very mathematically involved when you started to get to the end of your gearing process. That is stat break points. You want to reach them and reforging helps but sometimes upgrading items can help even more and most people never noticed that. If you needed 40 haste to reach a break point which would be better? Reforging 229 from another item to haste and losing that 229 in critical or mastery or upgrading a piece of gear that has haste and getting that 40 haste so you get to keep that entire 229 in critical or mastery? If you said upgrading is better, congratulations, welcome to the world of being a smart player.
Sometimes upgrading was not only about upgrading the best piece of gear you had, it was about upgrading the piece that would help you the most over all even if it wasn't the best flat out option to upgrade. That is one of my favorite things with the item upgrade vendor. It really bought a lot of complexity with it, it was never just as simple as lets upgrade this piece because it is the best piece I own. Nothing is ever that simple really.
With the exception of upgrading my darkmoon trinket, every single time I considered upgrading an item it was a process. A long and drawn out process of considering everything available to me, what I could be getting soon or what I will be getting soon and the numbers I needed to be at. Hey, call me a math geek, but I love numbers and I got a bit of a kick out of trying to figure out the perfect piece to upgrade. Nothing quite like hitting that haste break point perfectly on a healer thanks to upgrading the right piece for a math geek.
The other, most obvious, reason why the valor upgrades were a good idea from a design standpoint is a bit of a double edged sword, as you will find in the bad part soon. Having a use for valor always means you always need to grind valor and always need to cap. Blizzard wanted to keep us more active, keep us playing, keep us grinding and more importantly keep us subscribed. Because of the upgrade vendor there will always be something to spend that valor on and always be a reason to keep getting it every week. Ding ding ding, we have a winner, blizzard did exactly what they wanted to do. I don't know about you but for me, even if I had another 9K valor right now, I could spend it on upgrades and still need more. Valor was more useful thanks to the upgrade vendor. This keeps you playing and keeps you earning. But...
The Bad of it:
That could surely cause a lot of burn out. When you feel like you always need valor you, of course, have to always get valor. Yes, I know this is a hard point for many to understand and they like to fall back on the optional argument but as I have said here many times before, optional is an illusion that people making excuses for not being the best they can be use. So no, as long as there is an upgrade that you can get, getting it is not optional unless you do not care about being the best you can be.
With that said, I only worry about being the best I can be on my main. Not that I do not want to on my other characters, I just do not have that much time to cap on more than one character most weeks. I think I have only capped 2 characters 6 weeks all expansion so far and 3 only once. Time is a huge factor.
And that is where the upgrade vendor is a bad thing. It makes me have to keep grinding on my main to upgrade and be the best it can be that I can not invest enough time on my alts. As such my army of alts which I played enough to be good at them and geared on them have been left to being played sub par and geared sub par because I have not been able to give them the attention they need to get geared and me to get better at playing them.
The key to the bad of it is that because of the valor upgrades there is no end. You will always have something to upgrade and even if you do manage to catch up you will sooner or later get another piece of gear that needs to be upgraded too and it starts all over again. There is no end game. There is no point were you can say, I can't use valor any more.
When they had BoEs you could buy with valor it became optional. You had the option to keep gaining valor to buy them to sell if you wanted to once you did not need anything from valor points. But having the upgrade vendor as the valor sink instead of BoEs as a valor sink, meant, for people like me at least, that you would never reach the end game of valor. As long as there was something to upgrade you need to keep grinding it.
That is why I said thank god when asked about it. Thank god I will no longer need to grind valor. Thank god I will be able to say I am done. When the next patch comes and I buy whatever valor gear I need and there is nothing left for me to buy with valor I am done. I want to be done. I like having ends. Exalted for reputation, last boss for a raid, win or lose in a battleground, a cap for valor, whatever it may be it is nice to have a destination and get to it. With the valor upgrades there is never an end and surely not when things keep coming out faster like they have been.
I am sick and tired of feeling like I have to get my main capped as soon as possible each week or I am not doing the best I can do. I miss the feeling that when a new valor week started I could skip my main because my main did not need valor and I could start working on playing an alt and getting better at it and gearing it up now. The feeling that I don't have to valor cap is a good thing and once the valor upgrade option is gone that goal, that I do not need valor any more goal, is attainable again and thank god, I can't wait until I reach it.
That upgrade vendor was like a drug, an addiction, as long as it was there I would need to keep going to it. As long as my gear still needed an upgrade I needed to keep at it. Like a drug addict would rob a store when he needed money to keep up his habit I would make sure to cap myself each week, like it or not, because I could not go a week without my upgrade. I needed it, it was like crack. Removing that upgrade NPC is like removing the drug dealer. It is making me quit because I have no one to sell me my drugs any more. Thank god, because I was not going to quit upgrading on my own, I was addicted, they need to remove it, I needed that intervention.
Good or Bad:
You decide because I can't. In my opinion it is both and it is neither. My addiction of trying to do whatever I can for my character will mean I will always feel forced to use it if it is there and it is because of that addiction that I can't really make a decision. But like I said, if I had to make one, it would be that it is a bad thing only because upon hearing it was going away I couldn't help but say, thank god. And lets face it, even if you like something, if your reaction to it being over is thank god, perhaps you really don't like it even if you think you do.